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    Review of THE CASE OF THE TERRIFIED TYPIST by Erle Stanley Gardner


    Fawcett, July 1999

    With a typist out sick and a huge brief to get ready, Perry Mason and his assistant Della Street call an agency for an emergency typist. A typist shows up. Although she seems terrified, she does a great job on the brief. So great that Mason is ready to offer her a job--until she vanishes without being paid. When Mason learns that the building had suffered a burglary and that the police had been looking everywhere for a certain young woman, he realizes that he, and his office, had fallen for a mistaken identity. When one of the jewel dealers in Mason's building is accused of murder--and the typist clearly implicated, Mason needs to get to the bottom of more mistakes than that one.

    The evidence against the jewel dealer isn't strong. A jewel smuggler went missing--but there is no body to show. Still, District Attorney Hamilton Burger seems highly confident--so confident that Mason believes he has an ace up his sleeve.

    The story alternates between the streets where Mason, Della Street, and private detective Paul Drake attempt to track down witnesses, and the courtroom where Mason battles the smug Hamilton Burger. This time, though, it seems that the District Attorney really does have the edge. While Mason can make his legalistic arguments, the jury is swayed by a beautiful young woman--the terrified typist.

    Author Erle Stanley Gardner (see more reviews of mysteries by Gardner) throws his lawyer/sleuth a case where even Mason isn't sure what is going on--and where nothing is quite what it seems to be. The story also provides an interesting viewport into the 1950s where working women were referred to as 'girls,' where these women wore gloves and stockings and were judged on their figures as well as on their typing skills, and where professional jobs seemed reserved for men.

    This isn't the best of Perry Mason or Erle Stanley Gardner, but it definitely has some enjoyable moments.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 10/29/06

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